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NEW YORK — It looks like the end of the road for Best & Co., the high-end children’s retailer.
This story first appeared in the June 30, 2009 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.
Children’s Clothing Acquisition Co., doing business as Best & Co., filed a Chapter 7 petition for liquidation Friday in New Jersey and estimated assets and liabilities each of between $1 million and $10 million. The filing also said creditors holding unsecured nonpriority claims totaled nearly $2 million.
Among the creditors listed, but without dollar amounts, are: staffing firm 24 Seven Inc., New York; specialty retailer Bergdorf Goodman, New York, and modeling agency Ford Models Inc., New York. Other creditors include Susan Hilfiger of Greenwich, Conn.; Hickey Freeman Co., Chicago, part of bankrupt Hartmarx Corp., and trim firm The Farber Corp, New York.
As reported, Best & Co.’s 4,800-square-foot flagship high-end children’s boutique, at 289 Greenwich Avenue in Greenwich, abruptly closed on Saturday. The firm also shuttered its catalogue and online business in recent days, which its Web site attributed to “technical difficulties.”
A spokeswoman for Bergdorf’s said since Best & Co. filed Chapter 7, Best & Co. at Bergdorf’s will close. The details have not been finalized at this point. Bergdorf’s Best & Co. merchandise ran the gamut from baby caps and booties for $18 to blankets and playsuits for $48 to vintage cashmere jackets for $198.
Best & Co., which was founded in 1879, was originally a department store with a strong reputation in children’s wear until going out of business in 1970 on Fifth Avenue and 51st Street. It was resurrected by Hilfiger in 1997 as a classic children’s shop in Greenwich. Hilfiger opened the shop at Bergdorf’s in 2001. In 2007, she sold Best & Co. to FAO Schwarz, a unit of D.E. Shaw & Co., for an undisclosed sum, and became creative director, while continuing to design the children’s collections. Despite its rocky history, FAO Schwarz was expected to enable Best & Co. to expand its wholesale and international businesses, as well as its retail stores, catalogue and Web operations. It struck several partnerships with designers such as Carolyne Roehm, Peter Som, Shoshanna and Mrs. John L. Strong (which itself went into liquidation this spring). Best & Co. launched a high-end layette collection last August which featured cashmere sweaters, onesies and blankets as well as pima cotton onesies and accessories, retailing from $18 to $248. Toys ‘R’ Us purchased the troubled FAO Schwarz last month.
Catherine Moellering, president and chief executive officer at Best & Co., was not at liberty to comment and referred the call to the firm’s public relations company, which declined comment. Ben Stanziale Jr., the bankruptcy trustee, was unavailable for comment Monday.